The world of Great Shots is getting an introduction to a community that has not seen its likes before.
This year-round 54,000-square foot golf, food and entertainment facility located at the Sanford Sports Complex will celebrate a grand opening on Dec. 6. It will give people of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to hit golf balls year-round.
It may be a little difficult to explain what will be going on at Great Shots without seeing it for yourself but, as people discovered in a series of open houses recently, it will be easy to enjoy once you get there.
“We’ve seen a lot of that jaw-drop look when they just walk in,” said Jonathan Buckley, Great Shots general manager. “You see that large Daktronics screen in the bar area and the restaurant when you make your way up to the Champions Room. The entire facility is incredible.”
On a recent afternoon, Sanford Health employees and guests and members of the Sanford Wellness Center were getting their first opportunity to hit golf balls from one of the 60 heated bays aligned over three levels.
Great Shots, great temperatures
It has been described as like bowling or darts but for golf. Like those two indoor sports, it’s accessible to a variety of skill levels and often centered on socializing. Unlike those activities, Great Shots brings an outdoor activity inside. In South Dakota, that bumps a six-month sport to 12 months.
“This is beautiful,” said Steve Smith, a future regular customer — he plays golf three or four times a week during the summer — who was seeing the inside of the place for the first time.
“I wasn’t sure how warm it was going to be in these bays but it’s pretty comfortable with the heaters on.”
With temperatures slipping into the 20s as the sun went down, Smith, who was with his wife Julie, would not have been hitting golf balls otherwise.
“It’s a good place to come hang out and bring the family and bring your friends,” Smith said. “Maybe have a couple drinks and hit some golf balls. It’s a lot of fun.”
Smith was definitely in “fun” mode in his first visit, but the facility will also address the needs of those who are in genuine pursuit of improvement. Great Shots will also be home to the Sanford POWER Golf Academy, a comprehensive program for golfers of all ages and abilities that will tie together skill development, strength and conditioning, movement analysis, injury prevention and sports science.
Next to the academy space is a pro tour fitting space run by Austad’s Golf.
Instruction available next door
“One of the things we’re trying to do in golf is to introduce the game to more people,” said Todd Kolb, Director of Instruction for Sanford Power Golf Academy. “This is a great way to do that from an entertainment aspect.”
Many of those using the facility for the first time on a recent visit were either not regular players or in some cases hitting golf balls for the first time. In that regard, Great Shots will make the game a sport of inclusion.
“It’s very non-intimidating,” Kolb said. “Golf on an 18-hole golf course, if you’re new to the game, can be fairly intimidating. But this is open and it’s user-friendly. If you haven’t played much golf, or literally never held a club before, this is something you can do.”
By extension, that welcoming spirit will include the academy, which is located on the first floor.
“Our ability at Sanford to develop their skill set so they can enjoy the game is something we think adds real value at this facility,” Kolb said. “Even in just the few days that we’ve had people coming through we’ve been surprised already in the number of people who have wandered over to take a look. You can tell there are people who are interested in taking some lessons and getting better at the game.”
Above all, fun for all
Obviously, the main commodity will be selling fun. While Great Shots challenges conventional views of golf, it can also challenge how people view winter. That’s a good combination.
Buckley has been building up to opening Great Shots for months. The best thing about that process is that now it’s here. People curious about what it’s all about can now see for themselves.
“I compare it to that toy you’ve been wanting for Christmas,” Buckley said. “This is 100 times better than that. We get to open this new venue and be part of something exciting. There’s nothing really like it here in the community.”
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